Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dusting off the Pattern Stash

I'm pretty sure I've had this pattern (Simp 3768) for at least 5 years. I even bought it in both size ranges, which is why you see "1 of 2" across the top because back then I needed the largest sizes for the bottom half pieces. There's a number of new (and not-so-new) patterns out that I want, but since I'm still catching up on four months of unemployment/smaller temp paychecks, it will be a while longer before I feel comfortable spending that money. And, really, I have PLENTY of patterns that are still brand new, if not new releases.

I was eyeing this one last weekend, and today it finally made it onto the cutting table. I'm starting with the draped-front top (View C) and am also thinking about trying the shorts. I'm severely lacking in weekend wear and these appeal to me.

I'm more than halfway done with the top ... maybe an hour left of sewing, but I thought I'd take a break to share my pattern "alterations."

First up is the front underlay. If you've been reading my blog for more than a week, :-) ... you probably know that my TNT tee is from the 02/2007 issue of Ottobre Woman. It love the way it fits and even if I don't sew it directly, I nearly always use it as the "block" for my knit tops. I really don't enjoy reinventing the wheel and since I haven't been making too many muslins lately, I like the better odds for a good fit when I start with a known commodity.

So, the front underlay ... which is just a simple knit tank. You can see that the bottom half of the pattern pretty nearly matches my TNT. But the upper half ... no wonder I keep going back to my TNT ... it's quite a bit narrower at the shoulders and upper chest than a straight 18 (which is where this pattern starts), or even a 16 or 14. And the armhole is a good 1/2" higher. I like high armholes in knits. They feel better to me. And a high armhole also reduces the visual bulk across the girls, which is much more flattering on me. I measured the pattern's shoulder length for the smallest size and duplicated that on my morph.

And the back ... again, pretty close at the bottom, but a narrower neck and a higher and more inset armhole. Again, I duplicated the shoulder length per the pattern so my pieces would fit together.

The cowl piece did have me scratching my head a bit but I finally decided matching the armhole *seam length* to my TNT armhole so my TNT sleeve would fit, and tracing the sideseam shape from the front underlay, would probably be all the adjustment I needed, at least for a first try. After sewing the shoulders, I found out that the unadjusted front shoulder length was a little bit longer than the new back shoulder I drew. (The front underlay has a much shorter length on purpose, per the design.) I think I messed up the length when working with the front armhole, but a little tuck on the shoulder seam near the cowl/drape and no one will be the wiser unless they're reading this. If this is clear as mud, wait for the final pics and I"ll point it out then.

Sneak peak. This fabric is also from deep stash and I'm sure some of you are still hoarding it. I've seen other bloggers' makes from it and I made a top years and pounds ago. I think that top went home with my sister when it became too big for me. This new top is using up the scraps.

I'm enjoying the long holiday weekend. No real plans except to relax and sew as the mood strikes. I made my billable time goal at work this week so I was able to leave at 2:30 yesterday. Nice perk! I'm really enjoying the people at the new place. Still miss my old duties a little but I'm getting up to speed with my new ones and into the groove of actual legal work again.

I'll "see" you next time with a finished top. And maybe even some shorts.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Unintentional Fall Sewing

It's still quite summer here and will be for a long while yet so I don't really know why I was drawn to this fall-colored fabric today. But I was, and this 2-piece "dress" is the result. I think maybe I just wanted to finally get it out of the stash. And even though the colors are autumnal, I will probably ignore that and still wear it to work this coming week. A good thing about a new job is that all your clothes are new again, but, really, they aren't to me and something new and colorful will be fun.

The patterns are Butterick 5429 for the top and Simplicity 2185 for the skirt. I've made the top before, but with the sleeves. This time, I left them off per the red version on the envelope. I like it a lot and am already planning another. I wonder if I can get away with a few in solid colors for layering in "winter." I haven't hemmed the bottom and am still deciding if I will leave it raw, use a hem facing, or add a band. I'm leaning toward leaving it raw since it lays nice and flat which adds to the dress illusion. The fabric is a border print slinky. The real slinky ... ribbed, acetate blend, liquid and cool to the touch. It's been aging in the stash a few years. I think it came from

The skirt has separate pattern pieces for both knit and woven versions. Of course, I chose knit. I live in knits. The knit version has a sewn-on casing for an elastic waist. I omitted that and just serged elastic to the top edge, turned it down to the inside, and then coverstitched it in place. I also added about 3 inches to the length at the bottom. The long and short version both use the same pattern pieces, so I just drew a line (it's a curved hem so I had to actually measure) and cut 3 inches below the printed cut line for the shorter version and tossed the extra tissue. I figured if I ever actually want the long version, I'll just use the pieces for the woven view and sew with smaller seam allowances.

This is the skirt pattern I had cut the tissue for last weekend and then set aside. I'll be making this one again too. It's a very easy sew and I really like the version with the ruffles, although I would probably only use one at the side. I don't need a flounce starting at my belly.

I tried to line up the border "stripes" at the sideseam as best as I could, but the front pieces are shaped such that it's impossible to get a perfect match. Still, I managed to do fairly well and visually from a distance they will read as matching and I'm happy with that.

Here's a closer view of the twist. This top goes together very quickly. It's only 3 pieces if you leave off the longer sleeves. Four if you add them. No facings or bindings - just fold over a narrow hem where needed and stitch. The twist adds visual interest and with the top yoke, is high and modest. Many twist tops do their thing at the center bust, which can result in work INappropriate boobaliciousness.

* * * * *

Parting shot: Puppy love.

Monday, August 19, 2013


You would think because I'm modeling this outfit that I wore it today, but ... you would be wrong. ;-)

I'm actually trying on the two pieces together for the first time tonight after work to see how I like them and if they're contenders for tomorrow. I believe they pass. I'm thinking of leaving off a belt for sheer comfort. I've been walking at lunchtime and I think I'll prefer the floaty-ness of the unbelted top. Plus, I can tell already that I'd be fiddling with the front ruffle and side vents getting caught up and I definitely will not enjoy that. Sounds like I've made up my mind.

Speaking of lunchtime walks, I passed by this little guy today. I've lived here 23 years and I'm still enchanted by the tropical birds that are as common here as crows and sparrows up north.

And a couple of shots of the views from my office. Ironically, I can clearly see my old office from the new one. I hope they can see me back in the saddle and smiling.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fast and Basic

I had a new skirt pattern out, tissue pressed and cut, ready to go and then the wild hair took over. Or should I say, the lazy hair. Instead of making the new pattern/skirt, I re-fashioned a dress and made yet another Ottobre tee. It's a no-face/bedhead day, so this is all you get. ;-) Weird angle too, because I look like a rectangle which is something I definitely am not.

The skirt started life two+ years ago as this Walmart dress. I shrank out of the dress but I wasn't ready to give up the fabric.

Before, when it was new

Here's how it looked on me back then. (So glad my face isn't that puffy anymore.)

2 years and a few more pounds ago

The top is my trusty Ottobre 02/2007, in a cotton sweater-ish knit, with some beads tied into a stitched-on organza ribbon (makes the beads easy to remove for laudering). This outfit will be worn to work this week. It's nothing special or fancy, but that seems to be how I roll these days. I think it's the 3000% humidity we've been blessed with this month.

All told, I think I spent about three hours combined on both. After fighting with the Beast yesterday and running errands before that, I needed some comatose sewing. And that's one more thing off the refashion pile on the end of my ironing board. 

Have a good week!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Taming the Beast

Did you ever have one of those projects? The one where as soon as you cut the fabric, you knew it was going to be a fight to the end? This was that. But I think I beat it into submission won.

I added bust darts for fit and side vents for some interest. It's a fairly boxy top, which the belt is hiding.But it will be comfortable in our Florida heat, which will be sticking with us for a few more months. And I do mean sticking.

I used an embroidery thread and a rolled edge with my serger to finish the neckline flounce. There was no way in the world I was going to narrow-hem this poly. It was hard enough getting a sewing machine needle through it for a seam. It's very floaty, pretty fabric but it was like sewing through a tin can.

It's supposed to close with buttons, which would be hidden under the flounce anyway. I decided I didn't want to tempt fate even further by attempting buttonholes so I just overlapped the two front sides and sewed them together from the top side, in the ditch under the flounce. I did test that it would fit as a pull-over before making the decision to sew the front shut. And let's not even speak of the facings, except to say understitching AND overstitching AND Steam-a-Seam all were involved. It was a Tim Gunn moment (make it work).

At some point soon, I'll drag out the tripod a get a couple of selfies with me wearing the Beast and the skirt. But right now I need a cocktail. Or three. ;-

On another note, work is going well after my first week. I still have a lot to catch up on and, well, just plain fix, but they know that and are giving me the time and space to do so and I already see light at the end of the tunnel. It's great to not be micromanaged for a change and to have my brain appreciated. Yes, read between the lines. ;-)

Monday, August 12, 2013


1. Thank you SO MUCH for all the nice comments, and continued support.
2. I am pooped.
3. First day today.
4. I slept like crap last night.
5. Wired, not nervous.
6. Will be sawing logs by 10:30 tonight.
7. If you know me, that's like 7:30 in dog years. ;-)
8. Things went well.
9. I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment.
10. But I'll get there.
11. And my office-mates are patient, and really nice.
12. I will be billing some of my work out to clients.
13. I found out today that if I bill 20 hours in a week, I get to leave at 2:30 on Friday.
14. Can you say INCENTIVE?
15. :-)
16. There is a gym in the building.
17. I should really check it out.
18. "Should" being the operative word.
19. I didn't sew much this weekend.
20. But enough to tick myself off about what's probably going to be a bad match of fabric/pattern.
21. I'm giving us some space away from each other.
22. Maybe magic will happen while I'm at work.
23. I hate my cable provider (Bright House/Time Warner).
24. I've now missed TWO FREAKING episodes of Dexter because of their stupid contract "negotiations."
25. Good thing Breaking Bad took the edge off last night.
26. Is anyone watching Project Runway anymore?
27. I am. But I wonder why.
28. I want to see The Butler.
29. I may actually be able to afford a movie again.
30. And new shoes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Watch out fabric and patterns, here I come! (Yes, it means what you think it means. I start Monday.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Burda 8623: Finished

This skirt is done. Zillie has a crooked stance so the pockets look uneven, but I measured (after my first set of pics the other day) and they are truly evenly placed down from the waistband. One reason I like this skirt pattern is the partial elastic waistband. The front and back are flat; the elastic is inserted at the sides. It's nice to have a woven skirt which fits comfortably throughout the day without giving in to a fully elasticated waistband and additional bulk. 

I lined the skirt with some cocoa colored rayon lining fabric, cut cross-grain so I could lazily incorporate the selvedge as the hem, which ends right above the back kick pleat. You know me and handsewing (blech), so the lining is fully machine-sewn around the invisible zip. This is easy to do if you (a) leave attaching the waistband for last and (b) sew the lower CB seam of the lining *after* attaching the upper sections to the seam allowances around the zipper.You can see that I (cough:cough) carefully matched my serger thread to the lining. ;-)

Up next is this fabric, for a top to wear with the skirt. It's a crinkled poly from Gorgeous Fabrics bought in March. I fell in love with the colors and the print. So me.

The pattern is much older than the fabric. I don't know exactly how long it's been in my stash, but there are reviews of it dating back to 2002 if that's any indication. I've picked the circled view, with the flounce.

I have a little concern that the fabric *may* not be drapey enough so even though I've already altered the pattern to incorporate an FBA/bust dart, I'm still deciding whether to actually cut. You can see in the line drawing below that the sleeve is cut on. I just winged the upper slash for the FBA, keeping the shape and size of the sleeve with some creative "smushing."

I think I may go ahead and make a quick and ugly muslin and see how a decidedly non-drapey muslin fabric works.

I have an interview tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed for me. While the previous interview place narrowed their choice to between me and another candidate, they ultimately went with not-me. Which is probably for the best in the long run, because while I did really like the place and the people, it was the longer commute of the location which was the minus I referred to earlier. It probably wouldn't have been a deal-breaker, but now I don't have to make the decision. Everything happens for a reason, right?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Orange you glad to see me?

(My favorite knock-knock joke as a kid, so I couldn't resist.)

Since I'm not working, I decided to spend some time with some old friends in the sewing room today.

First up, my Viking 6010, which I dusted off and oiled, prepping her for some topstitching duty. Poor girl, I've neglected her for a year.

Next a TNT skirt, Burda 8623, which I've made numerous times. So nice to just cut and sew.

But, no, I couldn't just cut and sew. I had to change it up a little bit, by stealing the pockets from Simplicity 2152.

The front half is done. The pocket bands don't look so contrast-y in real life. Just pics playing tricks.

My 6010 never lets me down when using heavy thread for topstitching. Here, I'm using a salmon-y upholstery thread for both needle and bobbin, with a stitch length of 3.0.

Tomorrow, I'll be submitting resumes, inserting an invisible zip (can you believe I have one in the stash to match this fabric?), and then finishing up the skirt with a rayon lining.